As a Christian, I've heard this statement over and over. God is a God of second chances. It's really become cliche to say this when witnessing to people who once knew God or who think they are too far gone to ever be acceptable to God. But what does it really mean to get a second chance?
In 1999 I found myself sitting by the bed of a small child who was still in diapers. His head and body were swollen beyond recognition. Tubes and wires protruded from all four limbs of his body. He was not breathing on his own. A device was inserted into his skull that reminded me of an inverted sugar cone from his favorite ice cream shop. He was my 2 year old son. His body and brain had been terribly beaten from the effects of a car accident. The magic number was 14. As long as that monitor didn't reach 14, we would avoid risking his life by opening up his skull to relieve the pressure in his brain.
As beepers and buzzers occasionally broke the methodical sounds of the machine that breathed for him, I sat by his side holding his unresponsive hand, staring at the monitor. Eleven........twelve.........thirteen......
A nurses voice broke through saying "Mam, the operating room is on standby."
Soon the respirator was no longer needed, but he lay there lifeless in a doctor induced coma while his little body began the healing process.
Eventually, his eyes began to flutter. Then they opened all the way. Day after day. Adding more seconds to each opening.
"Mrs. E....., when he wakes up, he will probably be a totally different person than you knew before. His personality will be one that you will have to get to know. He won't be the same." My heart ached to have my happy, pleasant, sunshiny boy back. My arms ached to wrap around him and hold him to my chest. I wept before the Lord. He was still alive, but I felt as Rachael in the Bible, "weeping for her children were no more." I might never have the little boy I had come to love and delight in back ever again.
One day, he stayed awake for about 15 minutes. During that time, I leaned over so that he could see my face. There was no recognition in his eyes and I was horrified as I realized that he had no idea who I was. On a whim and with a prayer I said to him, "EJ... show me your funny face." And I waited. Slowly his eyebrows went up, his eyes and mouth opened wide and his ears moved backward as he made a face that never failed to make me giggle. My son was still alive in that body! I had a second chance!
The nurse came to see why I was giggling and crying at the same time. As I shared with her what had just occurred, I expressed my longing and aching just to feel him in my arms. "How much longer will it be until I can hold him?", I asked. "Well, you can hold him right now. I'll get you a rocking chair." I sat in the chair as she finagled all the wires and tubes and lifted him from the bed and placed him in my arms. As I felt his little body for the first time in weeks, that feeling that you feel the very first time you hold your newborn child in your arms washed over me in waves and waves, only this was much more intense. To go from a roadside physician telling me that he had no vital signs, to an emergency room doctor that wanted to give up trying to keep him alive, to a trauma room doctor who had told us if he lived through the night he might survive but the quality of life would be a great question to holding my little funny face maker in my arms was so overwhelming all I could was cry. He had a second chance. I had a second chance. My son that was dead and lost to me had been restored to me. Of all the emotions and feelings that I have felt throughout my life, as strong and intense as some of them were, nothing could even begin to equal the rush of joy, love, gratitude, humility and delight that washed over me when I held him for what felt like the very first time.
Surely this is what God feels when one that was lost to Him returns. Surely this is what causes the angels to rejoice and God to dance in heaven every time a sinner comes into the Kingdom. That rush of joy and love and delight then waves over us as God grabs us in his arms and holds us close to His bosom determined that He will never let us go. Forever He will cherish having us close to Him. Forever He will give all of His resources, all of His love, all of His protection, all of His life to keep us close and safe and nurtured.
Isaiah 66 12-14
12For thus says the LORD, "Behold, I extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees.
13"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;
And you will be comforted in Jerusalem."
14Then you will see this, and your heart will be glad,
And your bones will flourish like the new grass;
And the hand of the LORD will be made known to His servants,
But He will be indignant toward His enemies.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
" Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt,O virgin of Israel!Again you will take up your tambourines,And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.